Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 29, 2008

Iraq Civil War – #3 (Day 4): Ganging Up

Lat-Basra

Notice how Saturday's large and dramatic LAT front page photo frames Mahdi Army fighters (and, by way of the caption, "Muqtada Sadr") as gloating, oncoming, renegade antagonists to Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi government.

So the story line is set, although the factions aligned under the rubric of the Iraqi government (which are filled with like agents) actually instigated the hostilities.  Emphasizing the fighters as "parading," the weaponry and the hoods/masks play on stereotypical gang associations (including what reads like an intentional hand gesture by the guy on the left) to frame the Mahdi as the "gansta-terrorists" in this fight.

Look for the Administration to vigorously cover-up the Iraqi Government's power play and (rhetorically, as well as literally) attempt to nail the Mahdi, although more for face-saving purposes than anything else.  (It's an unfortunately thing, too, as the Mahdi cease-fire had been holding steady, with the faction apparently training its eye on the next round of elections.)

In a destabilizing assault that the U.S. wasn't informed of and never saw coming, another thing to watch for is the extent to which traditional media gets out in front in the visually enabling.

(image: Khaldoon Zubeir/Getty Images.  Basra, Iraq.  April 2008.  via Los Angeles Times)

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    Ah, democracy’s birthing, the first domino teeters — free at last! Kinda reminds you of the groups of masked stragglers that roamed the streets of Philadelphia during the constitutional convention brandishing their firepower and stirring the bond to form a more perfect union.
    Heckuva job Bushie!

  • luci

    “In a destabilizing assault that the U.S. wasn’t informed of and never saw coming”
    The newspapers are dutifully reporting that, but what is the source? It seems to be an advantageous narrative for the US Administration, it doesn’t seem to be independently verifiable, and it seems unlikely behavior for Maliki, who needs the US. I’d guess it’s a lie.

  • Cactus

    Well, it’s an interesting photo. Lots of open space. Cloudy day, so no shadows to add any confusion. Large open space in foreground, either vacant lot or large street/intersection. Not like the street crowds we’ve been seeing.
    In fact, we don’t know that this is a ‘parade’ at all. Four people does not a parade make. Then we only have the LAT’s word for it that they are Mahdi. They really could be anybody on either side (or should that be ANY side). Juan Cole thinks Bush is irrelevant, but it appears Maliki is, too. Iraqi’s know he’s a made man and now that the US is weakening, as our presence seems to be, it appears Iraqi’s have decided to solve their own problems. They know better what is going on in our country than we do in theirs. Sad.
    Or am I reading too much into this?

  • jtfromBC

    ~ ‘Bring It On’

Refresh Archives

Random Notes